PRINT July 1963

Three San Francisco Artists: Bernice Bing

THE CALIFORNIA LANDSCAPE, its climate, its mode of living, have been parodied, abused and praised in turn by song writers, intellectuals and artists throughout the world. To be born and raised in California, as was Bernice Bing, gives one an attitude which might be called permissive. A Californian isn’t generally beaten over the head with the realities of day-to-day living, as is, say, the New Yorker. Events flow smoothly with­out apparent resistance; necessary decisions take care of themselves, and a peaceful existence is taken for granted, without deep thought. A childhood and adolescence conditioned by the emotional outlook this kind of life breeds would seem to be an adversity for a young person with a will to paint. The necessary romantic hardship is missing, and yet, in spite of it, or perhaps because of it, Miss Bing has pursued paint­ing with a single-minded dedication since 1957.

Her student work shows a remarkable amount of inventive freedom within the confines of Bay Area realism (under the aegis of Elmer Bischoff). A break with figurative painting occurred in her work in the late fifties and has continued through the present time. Her first exhibition contained paintings which fed off the remembered figurative work executed earlier but with the added ingredient of personalized non-specific references to metropolitan life, forced into the picture plane with a determination which is overpowering. Miss Bing’s paintings transcend beauty in the mundane sense. The onlooker’s appreciation begins with feeling her work as an unnameable emotional pressure that slowly subsides while the individual formal aspects of the works present themselves as the encounter lengthens.

––James Monte